The Backbone Trail is the newest long-distance hiking trail in Los Angeles. Over 40 years (!), land management agencies painstakingly assembled the 69 mile long route in the Santa Monica Mountains from Will Rogers State Park to the Pacific Ocean at Point Mugu State Park, finally completing the project in 2016. Today, while it’s possible to hike the entire route from beginning to end, if you want to take on the Backbone Trail like a traditional long distance hike you’re going to run into some challenges. Namely, it’s really, really tough to camp on the Backbone Trail.

The few campgrounds on the Backbone Trail are not evenly distributed along the trail. In the 16 miles between Circle X Ranch and the Ray Miller Trailhead, there are two established campgrounds on the trail and one established and one backcountry campground that are a bit off the route of the Backbone Trail itself. After that, it’s about 40 miles to the next on-trail backcountry camp at Musch Camp.

While there are plans to help hikers get access to more campgrounds along the way, right now it’s a bit tough for most folks who want to thru-hike the Backbone Trail to find camping spots.

Enter the folks at Trail Magic Adventures, who are offering the first and so far only all-inclusive thru-hiking experience for the Backbone Trail. They’ve partnered with the numerous land management and park agencies and private landowners along the Backbone Trail to set up easy-to-access campgrounds (with flush toilets, even!).

a private campground on the backbone trail

a private campground on the Backbone Trail

In addition to the campgrounds, Trail Magic Adventures also provides participants with pretty much everything you’d need on the trail except for boots (yup – they even take care of water). You’ll be hiking the bulk of the Backbone Trail with just a day pack on your back.

If you’re not the thru-hiking type but still want to get some solid trail time with folks who know what they’re doing, Trail Magic Adventures also offers five different section hikes over weekends so you can break up the experience into more manageable chunks.

Thru-Hike the Backbone Trail with a Discount

As part of their launch efforts, Trail Magic Adventures is making things a little bit cheaper for Modern Hiker readers. Once you select some dates or build your own custom hike, use the code modernhiker at booking to score yourself a nice 10% discount on the price. They’ll be adding more open dates and you’ll want to get in on them soon before summer temperatures make hiking in the Santa Monicas a little sweatier.

Modern Hiker receives a commission when you use our custom booking code — so you get to save some cash AND support the best source of free online hiking information in the West! Win-win!

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Modern Hiker, Author of "Day Hiking Los Angeles," Walking Meditator, Native Plant Enthusiast.





1 Comment

Sheri Feb 7, 2020 02:02

I've hiked with TrailMagicAdventures and they are fantastic. Can't wait to do this thru-hike with them! (A thru-hike has always been on my bucket list and this sounds so do-able!)

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